I’m convinced that just one way we can show fervent love to our brothers and sisters is by giving them the benefit of the doubt. Don’t you appreciate it when others do the same for you? It’s a simple concept that simply means not jumping to the wrong conclusions about another’s behavior and instead, choosing to think the best about them since you don’t know the situation. Here are some hypothetical scenarios. (By the way, most of these cases are really none of your business, but since as fallen people, we often stick our noses where they don’t belong, I’m using these examples anyway.)
Situation: You run into someone who you’ve heard complain about financial problems eating dinner at the nicest restaurant in town.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they were given a gift certificate for their birthday.
Situation: You spot a movie containing explicit sexual content sitting on your friend’s entertainment set.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that someone lent it to them and they aren’t planning on watching it, or they’ll be fast forwarding the inappropriate scenes.
Situation: Someone makes a doctrinal/theological statement that could be taken one of two ways.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they meant it the correct way.
Situation: Someone says something rude or insensitive and doesn’t apologize.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they have a lot on their plate and accidentally took their stress out on you.
Situation: A child is throwing a temper tantrum while his parent tries to calm him at the church softball game.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that the parents faithfully discipline at home, and recognize that even well-trained children still disobey and act willfully.
Situation: A friend is holding a book that you know to contains heresy or false doctrine.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume they are reading it for the purpose of having an educated conversation with a weaker brother.
Situation: A sister in Christ is dressed provocatively at church.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that her heart is right, but she has not been taught on the subject of modesty and does not realize she may be causing issues for men round her.
Situation: Someone tells you they’ll come to your recital, show, or game, but they don’t show up.
Benefit of the doubt: Assume that unavoidable circumstances prevented them from making it.
You get the idea…when you don’t know a situation, choose not to jump to conclusions and assume the worst about your brother or sister. Give them the benefit of the doubt, recognizing that you would appreciate it if the same were done for you. It’s a small thing, but it can have a big impact on your attitude and thoughts about others. Fervent love comes in all shapes and sizes!